An Ele-friend is remembered
Mrs. Lalitha Menon
The elephant is very special for us in India; this in spite of the innumerable instances we know of the pachyderm being neglected, cruelly tamed, ill-treated
or overworked. We always stand and watch when one of these passes by. Somehow we feel that they will be around forever - even when forests are shrinking
and water that they cannot do without is getting rarer. Sometimes we cannot help feeling that a captive elephant is perhaps happier in a zoo outside India.
The elephants, tamed at home, travel to far away countries and become part of well-equipped and well-maintained zoos there. They are cherished
and well looked after there, their unusual appearance and behavior a matter of understanding study rather than tough handling. And once they are gone,
they are missed and deeply mourned. This is what happened to Indira, the elephant who went to a zoo in Tokyo as a gift of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
to the children of Japan as a result of a letter campaign. She reached Japan by ship on September 24th 1949, and was marched in the early morning hours
the next day the 9-km distance to Ueno Zoo, where she was greeted by about 2,000 people.
In a letter he sent to the children of Tokyo, Prime Minister Nehru said, “. . . I hope that when the children of India and the children of Japan grow up,
they will serve not only their great countries, but also the cause of peace and cooperation all over Asia and the world. So you must look upon this elephant,
Indira by name, as a messenger of affection and goodwill from the children of India . . .”
In spite of all the goodwill on both sides, it must have been a traumatic experience for the elephant having to make a home so far from home.
However, being intelligent and amenable to change, she got used to her new home, the new sights and smells and sounds.
The Japanese, perfectionists that they are, spared no effort in keeping Indira happy. Thus began a long period – almost four decades – of
a warm relationship between the Indian elephant and her Japanese friends.
The Japanese, especially the children, came in large numbers and stood in front of Indira admiringly. She in turn, fully aware of the admiration
that she was causing, stood in front of them moving her ears like oversize fans, turning her head from side to side, raising her trunk above her
head, and sometimes gaily picking up and throwing sand around her, like a gushing fountain, enjoying it all as much as her doting audience did.
Thus years went by, and in August 1983, after she had reached a ripe old age, Indira succumbed to the inevitable, plunging the zoo in gloom.
The news of her passing was as well covered by the media as her arrival all those years earlier.
There is more to the story. The Japanese, with their Shinto and Buddhist traditions, never forget their dear ones who have passed away.
They remember them and express their affection and fond remembrances in a somber custom called ‘O-Bon’. They go a step further – similar ceremonies
are held to honour their pet animals and birds that are gone. Even inanimate things, like toys that had brought them joy, and needles which had been
of use to them at one time, are not forgotten. It is not surprising that an adored creature like Indira the elephant was to be remembered in a special way.
In an annual function in Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo, commemorating all the animals that had been part of the zoo family and had passed away the previous
year, Indira too was remembered. She elicited some of the most moving messages that day. In the presence of various dignitaries including the
Indian Ambassador to Japan, tributes were paid to her. Addressing the departed friend, the Director of the Zoo said, “You came from a far away
country. It must have been so difficult for you to get used to this new country that became your home. And yet you brought cheer to so many,
day after day, for so many years. You will never be forgotten. We pray for the peace of your soul.”In front of a beautifully decorated picture of Indira,
everyone bowed, and maybe a tear was shed in memory of a truly dear friend.
"When we were in Tokyo, the elephant that Pundit Nehru had presented to the children of Japan had died. The zoo organized a very special ceremony for saying goodbye to him and invited
your patron to the function. Speeches were made and moving tributes paid to their dead friend."- Lalitha Menon. Her husband Mr.K.P.S. Menon, our Patron was the Indian Ambassador to Japan.
It was 8 am, on June 12th, 2005, when Debasis told me that Whitey had a massive heart attack, shivered a little, and passed
away. For a moment, I could not believe my ears. The mind has its own mechanism to protect the heart from unwelcome information. Whitey
was brought to us in 1996. Ms. Uma Rao had picked him up from the tram tracks, when a tram had run over his little paw. He was just a little
puppy, foolish enough to think that all humans are kind and considerate; not that he lost his trust even after his left front paw had to amputated!
For nine years, he lorded it over us all, lapping up the love he got, and demanding it when it wasn't proffered. He was so gentle and loving that
even the little children who visited Karuna Kunj lost their fear of dogs, and started to pat and feed him. When eight-year old Naomi Shah longed
to get a dog, her mother told her that she could adopt a dog at Karuna Kunj, but he would have to stay there – the way boys stay at Boarding
School, because there was no room for a dog to live comfortably in the limited space of their flat. Naomi went around Karuna Kunj, and the one
she chose was – you've guessed it! It was Whitey! He was the first residential guest Karuna Kunj had, and by far the most popular.
About two years ago Debasis had him brought to Ashari, where he would be more comfortable and be better looked after. The reason was
the beginning of a carcenogenous growth.
Dealing with animals one becomes used to the pain of losing four legged and feathered friends. Yet, each loss contains the sweetness of happy
memories, and the enormous comfort of knowing that the end was filled with emotional and physical comfort. It is futile to wish that this could
be the case for all creatures, but for every human or non-human who leaves the world with serenity, it is the best way to go.
Life is a struggle for all creatures, human and non-human. We watch the wildlife documentaries, and we feel sad that the caged wildlife misses
out on their freedom. The wild creatures may have to struggle for survival, but their freedom makes their struggle worthwhile. It is the
same for us, humans, who struggle against so many odds, to make life worthwhile. We value freedom (as we value other gifts) only when we lose it.
Scientists observe animal behavior, to learn more about human nature. It is ironical that studies are inclined to be cruel and focused on
perversions, and common sense factors are missed out. For example, I have not heard of any study which relates the inertia of caged animals
(who receive regular meals) with the inertia of those who are content with mediocrity, because they have a fixed income without needing to work for it.
Whether it is the people in Government Service or whether it is the children of rich families – the loss of human endeavor for
betterment is as great a cancer as the one which Whitey died of.
Whitey, at least, was loved all his life, because he gave love so lavishly. Can we say the same for the inertia-riddled millions who live lives little
better than sheep and goats; who neither know how to give love, nor get anything worthwhile in their lives? If eating, sleeping, procreating and socializing is
the be-all and end-all of life, is the human existence any higher than an animal existence? Our scriptures say that all creatures
have four common drives; hunger, fear, lust and fatigue. The Homo sapiens is considered a higher species, only because we have the ability
to rise above our weaknesses, and extend greater help to others.
Makes us think a bit, doesn't it?- Purnima L. Toolsidass
|Letter to Naomi......|
My dear Naomi,
|Pet Travel !!|
Caring people are often confused about the arrangements to be
made when their pet has to travel.
| Dear God
Please send me somebody who will care!
I'm tired of running
I'm sick with despair
My body is aching
It's so racked with pain
And Dear God I pray
As I run in the rain
That someone will love me
And give me a home
A warm cozy bed
And a big juicy bone
My last owner tied me
All day in the yard
Sometimes with no water
And God that was hard
So I chewed my leash
And God I ran away
To rummage in garbage
And live life as a stray
But now God
I'm tired and hungry and cold
And I'm so afraid
That I will never grow old
They've chased me with sticks
And hit me with stones
While I run the streets
Just looking for bones!
I'm not really bad
God please help if you can
Or I have become
Just a "Victim of Man!"
I'm wormy Dear God
And I'm ridden with fleas
And all that I want
Is an Owner to please!
If you find one for me God
I'll try to be good
And I won't chew their shoes
And I'll do as I should
I'll love them
Protect them and try to obey
When they tell me to sit
To lie down or to stay!
I don't think I'll make it
Too long on my own
Cause I'm getting so weak
And I'm so all alone
Each night as I sleep in the bushes
Cause I'm so afraid God
That I'm gonna die
And I've got so much love
And devotion to give
That I should be given
A new chance to Live!
So Dear God
Please answer my prayer
And send me someone
Who will REALLY care
If You Are Really There!
–– Author unknown
|How ethically proactive are you – a test for you:|
|"Should everyone have a pet?"|
"Should everyone have a pet?" is a frequent question. Sometimes it is asked hopefully, sometimes, with apprehension. People seem to expect an unconditional affirmative, knowing me to be fond of dogs.
"Not unless the lady of the house loves pets." This answer brings relief to some, disappointment to others.
It is a fact, however, that bringing in a pet against the wishes of the lady of the house is unfair to both the lady and the pet. Men and children are hardly at home. Nor do they take the responsibility of all the care a puppy needs in his first year.
The lady of the house is left with a puppy that whines continuously if tied (or locked) up, makes a mess in the house, frightens visitors, chews up the furniture, furnishings and shoes, etc. It suffers, and the lady suffers. The dog grows maladjusted and the lady grows irritable and fed up. The dog turns into a biter and has to be either given away or put down. The men or children are left with a guilty conscience and interpersonal friction.
The picture is grim, but realistic.
Pets have feelings. They are capable of giving total, unconditional love and loyalty, of bring one’s comfort and pride and joy, but it takes a dint of love and care for the bonding to take place, before these gifts can be attained.
People imagine that a dog will understand that it is supposed to love the "owner". A dog understands only love – or lack of it. If a person pays a high price for a highly pedigreed specimen, builds an attractive looking kennel in the garden for him, and hires a man specially to look after the dog, he is stupid to think that this is enough to win the dog’s love and loyalty. "The one thing money can’t buy, is the wag of a dog’s tail", is a well-known fact. Dogs know no pretension. They wag their tails with their hearts. They love unconditionally, but only in response to genuine love and kindness. They are unconcerned with the appearance, popularity or bank balance of their master. They are strangers to the shallow "love" we humans have, which takes pride in a young, handsome companion, but discards him as soon as his glamour (or utility) is reduced. That is why they suffer emotionally, when dispatched to shelters. To rest sanguine, saying, " We could no longer manage Tommy, so we gave him away to a shelter where he will end his days happily" is to lie to oneself, lie to God, and sink below the accepted level of humane values.
A dog gives us his all – he deserves no less from us. No human can love as unconditionally, as unselfishly, as a dog. If we were to give it a ruthlessly honest thought, we’d be forced to accept that all interpersonal love is conditional and limited; only the love of a dog surpasses human limitations. If we could learn to love as unselfishly as a dog, we’d be finer human beings.
CHOOSING A PUPPY
If you are lucky enough to have a Mother or wife who loves dogs, and is happy to get this priceless treasure for her family, then give a good thought about the type of dog best suited to your home and family.
A large dog needs a spacious home and lots of exercise. Furry dogs are more difficult to maintain than short-coated ones. Smaller breeds are more snappy and yappy than larger breeds, whereas larger breeds are generally more gentle and obedient.
These are generalizations, but every breed has its own distinctive tendencies. The German Shepherd and Doberman Pincher make excellent guard dogs, but need expert handling. Dalmatians are temperamentally unstable and can turn into biters. Rottweilers and Bull Pit Terriers can be downright dangerous. Spaniels have long ears, which need great care. The long, short Dachshunds are unsuitable for people who must climb stairs to get to their flats. Consulting a knowledgeable person before choosing a breed will ensure you get the type best suited for your situation and need.
People who make a business out of breeding dogs (called ‘puppy mills’) are responsible for much cruelty and suffering. In the UK, there is a law, which bans the breeding of a dog more than once a year and more than a total of six times in all. Unfortunately, in India there is no control, and people often get a puppy that has some genetic problem or inherent weakness due to the callousness of the breeder. Both the dog and the loving owner suffer, but the breeder and vets make a profit.
To avoid such a trap, a wise person should insist on seeing both the Sire and the Dam of the puppy. One should also check when the Dam had her previous litter. Only if the parents seem healthy and kept in hygienic conditions, should one take a puppy from that litter. When choosing the puppy, watch for the one which is friendly and active. Decide whether you want a male or a female. Each has certain advantages and disadvantages, which you should consider before you go to look at the puppy.
There are many books available which will guide you about house training and basic training. The best for you and your pet is for you to train him yourself. Professional trainers are found to be quite rough, and the dog becomes incurably shy as a result, or else he begins to misbehave with everyone except the trainer. Dogs are most eager to please their masters, and will learn eagerly and quickly, if taught with love. Short sessions, with frequent rewards are best. A firm "No!" is enough to give a message to the puppy, but dogs are very quick to catch the indulgence of a weak "No" and take advantage of it, so be careful!
Mr.Debasis Chakrabarti has written a handbook on basic dog training and care which can be procured from our office or at the meetings.
|THE IMPORTANCE OF STERILIZING DOGS AND CATS.|
average number of litters a fertile dog can produce in one year: 2.
The average number of puppies in a litter: 6 – 10.
In six years, one female dog and her offspring can theoretically produce 67,000 dogs.
The average number of litters a cat can produce in one year: 3.
The average number of animals in a litter: 4 – 6.
In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats.
Now do you agree that the ABC/AR (Animal birth control/Anti Rabies) program is vital for public health and hygiene, apart from saving incalculable mute suffering?
history of the cat goes back forty million years to a time when there was
a cat-like animal, which roamed the wilds. This early cat was about the
size of a lynx and looked like a modern cat, but with much bigger teeth.
From this animal developed a wild cat called
the sabre-tooth tiger, which became extinct in prehistoric times. Either
from this, or from an even earlier ancestor, came all our modern cats,
including the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, cheetah, lynx, puma, bobcat
and ocelot. Altogether, there are
thirty-six different species of cat, which all vary greatly in size.
No one is really sure which small cat was the
ancestor of our modern domestic act. It may have been the European
Wildcat, which looks very much like a tabby, or it may have been one of
the small spotted cats of Asia. Other possible ancestors include African,
jungle or Egyptian cats, as mummies of all these have been discovered in
Egyptian tombs. The cat became
domesticated much later than the dog, and it was only in the last century
that people began breeding them. The cuddly pet of today has not changed a
great deal from the wild animal it was originally. Over
4,000 years ago, some Egyptians regarded the cat as sacred. Their cats
were treated with great respect and affection, and killing a cat was
considered a very serious crime. When a cat died, everyone mourned it
greatly. It was then mummified and buried with honor. The
sun God Ra was sometimes shown in cat form, and the goddess Mafdet,
protesters of the Pharoah, was also depicted as a cat. Around
the time 1800BC, cats were kept as domestic pets in Egypt. They kept down
rats, mice and snakes. They were also trained to retrieve wildfowl for
hunters. Eventually, the Romans also used cats as rodent catchers, and
some Romans worshipped them, too. It was probably the Romans who
introduced cats to Britain.
Cats as Pets:
Many people nowadays love to have cats as pets. They are friendly, cuddly and make wonderful companions. Because they are independent and exercise themselves, they are also easier to keep than dogs, especially for those living in flats. It is very difficult to resist fluffy little kittens, but before anyone considers taking one home as a pet, they need to think carefully about its future. Cats like company and need to be fed regularly. They like to stay in their own home with freedom to come and go as they please. It is important to think about how much time can be spent with a cat, who will look after it when the family goes on a holiday, and who will feed it. Is there a garden for the cat to play in, and sharpen its claws? A healthy cat will live for many years, and acquiring a cat is a great responsibility. Getting a pet is a commitment, not to be taken lightly. One has to consider all aspects, the work involved, the problems and the pleasures, the expense and the difficulties. Also, the health benefits now acknowledged by psychologists. Pet therapy is gaining popularity the world over. People suffering from loneliness and tension, find it very relaxing and soothing to stroke a cat, hear her purr and feel her head rubbed lovingly. Cats multiply very fast and need to be neutered, to avoid an endless supply of unwanted kittens. Neutering males is also recommended, to save other cats from being born on the streets. When choosing a kitten, avoid choosing one with a running nose, or one who suffers from diarrhoea. Check that there is no discharge from the ears, or that she doesn’t have fleas. A blown-out tummy indicates worms. A new kitten needs a litter tray. This is to use as a toilet until she is trained to go outside. The litter should be changed at least once a day, or else the kitten will not use it. Food and water bowls, kept clean and filled with fresh water, and a cosy box to sleep in, should be provided. The sizes will change as the kitten grows. Cats love softness and comfort, so place a soft cloth in the box for her to sleep on. Make sure there are no draughts, as cats hate draughts. An eight-week old kitten needs four meals a day, but only two when grown up. Cats go blind unless they get a trace of taureen in their food. Cats cannot absorb taureen from vegetarian food, but they go out and hunt their animal protein, if adopted by a vegetarian household. A young kitten will miss her family and needs lots of cuddling and stroking/scratching behind the ears, etc. They love to play, but avoid giving them a ball of wool which can get stuck in their throat. They also need lots of sleep, and should not be disturbed when resting. Although cats are naturally clean, they do need regular brushing. Unless this is done, they can swallow the loose hair and health problems will start. Cats hate having a bath, and don’t need one, unless to treat fleas. Regular grooming will identify minor problems like ear discharge, fleas, etc. Cat flu and feline enteritis are two major illnesses, which can be avoided by vaccination. Cats like to eat grass, as it helps them bring up hairballs they swallow while grooming themselves. If your cat has no access to outdoors, keep a pot of grass for it. A scratching post is also needed, so that your cat can indulge in her natural urge to sharpen her nails. Unless this is provided, your furniture will be used as a scratching post! A tail carried high usually indicates a happy cat. When she is unhappy, her tail will drag on the floor. Cats do not see colors as well as we do, and stationary objects are not clear to them. However, they rarely miss a movement and can see in very little light. Their hearing is much sharper than ours and can hear pitches inaudible for us. Their sense of balance is amazing, and this helps them avoid nausea while travelling. Their sense of smell is also highly developed, and gives them interesting information about where their human companion has been, and with whom. Although in India, we generally know just the common feral cat, there are many breeds, available abroad. Amongst the most popular are Siamese cats, Persian cats, British Shorthairs, Manx (tail-less), the Cornish and Devon Rex, the Russian Blue, Turkish cats, Angora, Abyssinians and Burmese Cats.
|A Memorable Anniversary|
ALPENA, Mich. (USA) –
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I'd say a
pretty good way to impress a date is to politely excuse yourself from the
table, dash out the back of the restaurant, dive into a river and save a
drowning dog. It may also help to have a tape recorder playing the James
Bond theme song. On Thursday, Aug. 29, Jim Jovanovic and Susan Jovanovic
were celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary at Jeppetto's on the
River, when they spotted a Golden Retriever in distress. According to Jim,
the dog had been watching a white swan in Thunder Bay River and decided to
jump in to investigate further. The pooch became disoriented as it
splashed around in the water, losing strength and sinking fast. At that
point, Mr. Jovanovic jumped up from his seat and headed through the
emergency exit toward the river bank. After unsuccessfully trying to coax
the dog ashore, he saw no other course than to dive in, still fully
dressed in his formal evening attire. "The dog kept trying to push me
under," he told reporters. "It was 80 pounds of soaking wet
mongrel. I hoisted him back up on the bank and he just collapsed because
he'd gone under the water a couple of different times." Mr. Jovanovic,
who has a Labrador at home, explains: "I just love animals. I
couldn't see anybody losing a dog if I could help it. They're like family
members." This dramatic photo shows Jim Jovanovic diving into Thunder
Bay River, wrestling the currents and hauling the 80-lb. Golden Retriever
onto dry land. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time
to capture this incredible moment on film! (...OK, we had a little help
from a passing satellite.) The dog recovered quickly from the incident,
the Detroit Free Press reports.
|An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog –– By Oliver Goldsmith|
Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wond’rous short,
It cannot hold you long.
In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say,
That still a godly race he ran,
Whene’er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,
When he put on his cloaths.
And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound,
And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.
Around from all the neighbouring streets,
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lots his wits,
To bite so good a man.
The wound it seem’d both sore and sad,
To every christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.
But soon a wonder came to light,
That shew’d the rogues they lied,
The man recover’d of the bite,
The dog it was that died.
|A Few Questions to Pet Owners|
|Do you believe that your pet should be bred? If so, can you tell me why? Bitches are over-bred mercilessly, even when they have genetic problems like hip displasia. Pups, weak or defective are sold cheap at local markets. Pampered initially, they get neglected once the novelty is over and the physical defect discovered. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the world’s oldest and most highly respected animal welfare organization. They have produced a pamphlet (copy available with PFA Calcutta) which explains why we should avoid bringing more pets into this world. If you wish to make a buck from your pet, it is another matter altogether. If, however, you genuinely love your pet and animals in general, rid yourself of this mistaken notion. Neuter your pet - whether male or female - and help save mute suffering|
|Is Your Beloved Pet Getting Old?|
|Unfortunately, pets age faster than we do, and we need to prepare ourselves mentally for the sake of the pet and for our own sake, too.We tend to get impatient and irritable, finding it a nuisance when our dog gets less frisky begins to lose his coat or get a cataract and bump into furniture. They also lose bladder control and make a mess in the house. These are indeed irritating, but let us pause a bit and remember how many years we took to stop doing all this when we were babies. Let us remember the painstaking patience of our mothers, our own loving tolerance when our children were toddlers. Don’t our pets - who see us as their entire world - deserve the same love and patience from us when they need us the most? Can we hope to face our Maker (as one day we must) if we grudge or deny them this, and expect Him to "forgive us our trespasses"?|
|Are you distressed by a neighbour’s neglect of a pet ?|
|Do you wish to help the innocent, helpless mute? Write to us about it. You can be sure your letter will be kept confidential, and the neighbour counselled tactfully. Write to The Trustees, People For Animals Calcutta, 15/B, Clive Row, Kolkata -700001.Do you wish to support the ABC/AR (Animal Birth Control/Anti Rabies) program in Kolkata? 1,00,000 people go for post-bite anti-rabies vaccinations EVERY MONTH in Kolkata alone. 30,000 people in India die of rabies annually. These are the recorded figures. God alone know how high the real figures are. Rabies is a disease for which prevention is the only cure. Post-bite treatment costs the Government approximately Rs.1,000 per person, with each person needing fourteen injections in the stomach. Moreover, a single dog can bite several people. On the other hand, vaccination per dog costs only Rs. 35/-. The worst effected are the children who live alongside these dogs on the pavements and in the slums. Since March 1996, we have been given charge of Kolkata’s stray dog problem. We sterilize over 250 dogs per month at the Dhapa Dog Pound. If you wish to help make Kolkata rabies free, please contact us.|